Pop’s Old Place in Hurlock, Maryland is the host for an October 27 workshop, “Grazing Strategies for Resilience and Profitability,” co-sponsored by UMES Extension and Future Harvest.  Darlene Goehringer and her husband, Arthur Wilson, owners and operators of the pasture-based livestock farm for the past two decades, will share the successes and challenges they encountered over the past four years converting sandy fields into green pastures.

“This is the perfect workshop for farmers who are interested in experimenting with no-till annuals and increasing organic matter in their fields, all while decreasing their input costs without sacrificing the well-being of and taste from their animals,” said Niamh Shortt, Field School Director with Future Harvest.

On the 70-acre farm, the couple raises Randall cows, Mulefoot pigs and Katahdin and Dorper cross sheep selected for enhanced meat flavor, adaptation to Mid-Atlantic climate and low input costs.  They sell grass fed meats, free-range eggs, vegetables and value-added products such as homemade sourdough bread directly from the family farm.  “Grassfed Goodness Since 1909” is the farm’s motto.  Their Randall herd is a rare, purebred descended from a herd originating in Sunderland, Vermont, and named for the breeder.

UMES Associate Dean for Extension and Small Ruminant Specialist Dr. Enrique Nelson Escobar and University of Maryland Extension Pasture Specialist Dr. Amanda Grev will join the farmers as they guide participants on a tour of the farm, particularly the pastures, Shortt said.  National Resources Conservation Service and Million Acre Challenge representatives will also be on hand to share information and resources.

The NRCS and the Dorchester Conservation District have worked with the couple since 2012 to help develop the farm using best management practices.  When they were ready to expand four years later, the agencies assisted them in establishing additional pasture to allow for rotational grazing.  Goehringer has since hosted educational events on the farm and served as a resource for area farmers, particularly women in agriculture.  For her efforts in conservation, stewardship and education, Goehringer was recognized by the Dorchester Soil Conservation with a 2019 award accompanied by a citation from Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary Joseph Bartenfelder.  Pop’s Old Place has also been featured in publications such as Lancaster FarmingEdible DelmarvaShore MagazineAttraction MagazineMother Earth News and on WBOC TV 16’s DelmarvaLife.

The couple has been connected with UMES Extension’s resources since 2011 when they worked with Escobar on practicing integrated parasite control for goats and sheep.

“It has been rewarding to follow the production capacity and diversity that Ms. Goehringer has achieved during the past 10 years,” Escobar said. “Interested participants will have a unique opportunity to ask questions about successes, pitfalls, etc., and talk to NRCS representatives about programs available for farm development.”

The workshop on grazing strategies is from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Pop’s Old Place, a Century Farm located at 4657 Skinners Run Road in Hurlock.  Registration is $15 per person, which includes lunch featuring hamburgers from beef raised on the farm. Register at https://bit.ly/2YPGVc7.  For more information, contact Shortt at niamh@futureharvest.org.

Gail Stephens, agricultural communications and media associate, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, School of Agricultural and Natural Sciences, UMES Extension, gcstephens@umes.edu, 410-621-3850.

Photos courtesy of Future Harvest.

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